State Association for the
Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries

SAPIC is a non-profit organization 501 (c) (3).
Contributions are deductible under sections
170, 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code.

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Next Meeting

The next SAPIC meeting will be held October 11, 2014 at 10:30 AM at the Johnston Public Library (Des Moines area) located at 6700 Merle Hay Road. Take the Merle Hay exit #131 off Interstate 35-80 and go north on Merle Hay Road for 2 miles. Turn left on North Glenn Drive and you will see the library (North side of Johnston). Lunch is on your own following the meeting. Contact person: Larry Davis. E-mail: Phone: 515-277-4917. Following the SAPIC meeting, members will present a panel discussion of the history, present activities of SAPIC and an overview of sections of the Code of Iowa that deal with laws pertaining to pioneer cemeteries. This presentation will take place at the Iowa Genealogical Conference that is being held at the St. Paul's Presbyterian Church in Johnston. To register for this conference go to:

Cemetery Class & Workshop

Cemetery Class & Workshop: May 17, 2014 from 10 am till 4 pm, Independence, Iowa. Registration is required. The program will have a morning class session at the Independence Public Library from 10 am till 12 noon. At the Oakwood Cemetery, from 1 pm until 4 pm, there will be a hands-on workshop for learning cemetery care, basic gravestone maintenance, and simple repair. Gain valuable knowledge for documenting a cemetery, safe cleaning practices, probing, repairing and resetting certain types of grave markers. John Heider, professional gravestone repair specialist, will teach and guide individuals on how to properly care of Iowa's cemeteries and their historic grave markers. Workshop is limited to twelve (12) participants. Fee: $35 single, $60 for a couple. Contact: Leanne Harrison, Buchanan County Historical Society, (319)-334-4616.

SAPIC was organized in 1996 with the following goals:

A. To identify all cemeteries in Iowa

B. To take such measures as are necessary, possible and reasonable to protect these cemeteries, and the monuments contained in them, from danger due to natural causes or from human encroachment.

C. To provide guidance and educational materials for use by the people entrusted with the preservation of these cemeteries and monuments contained in them.

D. To compile and distribute information about the proper maintenance techniques for these cemeteries and the monuments contained in them.

E. To provide advice and information to legislative bodies empowered to pass legislation creating a legal framework for the protection, the preservation and maintenance of these cemeteries and the monuments contained in them are enforced.

F. To act as a monitor of the administrative and management personnel of these cemeteries, to ensure that the legal measures for the protection, preservation and maintenance of the cemeteries and the monuments in them are enforced.











Donation to Oak Grove

November 15, 2011- Mike Magee, President, [left] SAPIC, presenting a donation in the form of a check for $200.00 to Philp Berglund, township trustee in Yell Township in Webster County, Ia. Donation to be used for repair and landscaping effort at Oak Grove Cemetery.


SAPIC History

The State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries was formed in 1996 as a result of legislation that allowed for each of the 99 counties to create a County Cemetery Commission. The focus of these Commissions was to rescue untended pioneer graves and cemeteries and to take responsibility for the upkeep of such sites. May is proclaimed Cemetery Appreciation Month each year by the Governor of the State of Iowa.

Our Pioneer Cemetery Concerns

Iowa law defines a Pioneer Cemetery as one in which there have been 12 or fewer burials in the past 50 years. If you know of a cemetery that qualifies for this distinction, and would like to have it recognized, please contact the
State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries to have it recorded. The law was changed from six to 12 burials in 2009 under 'standings bill' SJ 1150, and was signed by Gov. Chet Culver on May 26, 2009. See our PURPOSE above.

Please include a membership application (if not already a member) which can be found here

SAPIC Cemetery/Grave Marker Survey

SAPIC developed a survey form for the detailed documenting of cemeteries. The public is encouraged to use this form for documenting and/or recording cemeteries anywhere, whether they be pioneer, city, church, private, etc. and regardless of condition. A Word version is available for typing directly into the boxes and a PDF version is available to print and write on.

Microsoft Word version                    PDF version

Do not let this form scare you! Recording a cemetery of any size does require extensive dedication, but with the diversity between cemeteries, it is unlikely that every field will be filled. It is still important to do your best and complete the survey as fully as possible. Some of the fields will require additional research away from the cemetery, including the utilization of the library, courthouse and online information. The goal of this form is merely to serve as a guide with terminology to better understand our cemeteries and as a starting point towards cemetery restoration. Many abandoned cemeteries are far from what the pioneers had envisioned in their cemetery's future. We can prevent what remains of our cemeteries from facing the same fate. There are no regulations requiring cemeteries to use this form, but many wish they had a universal form to record their cemeteries and prevent what currently exists from entering oblivion. For those of you who are determined to undertake this challenge, we commend you!


Dennis N. Britson, Director
Regulated Industries Unit, Iowa Securities Bureau
340 Maple St.
Des Moines, IA 50319
(515) 281-5705 or toll-free (877)-955-1212
Lara Noldner
Bioarchaeology Director
700 Clinton Street Building
Iowa City, IA 52242-1030

Membership Dues

Thanks to all of the SAPIC members who have renewed their memberships. Your support is greatly appreciated! If you haven't done so yet, you may send your dues to SAPIC Treasurer, Valerie Ogren, 108 N. Oak St., Jefferson IA 50129-1841. Annual dues are: Individual - $10; Household - $15; Organization or business - $20. Lifetime dues for an individual - $100. Membership includes the SAPIC newsletter "Grave News." Membership Application

Iowa Cemetery Laws and Procedures
Please note, the number of burials requirement to be designated as a Pioneer Cemetery has been changed to 12 since the original law was passed.

Meet the winners of the Carter Awards
Nominations due July 1 each year

E-Mail List: The Iowa Cemeteries e-mail list is hosted by SAPIC member Fred Reese. To join this list send an e-mail message to  Leave the subject area blank. Put only the word subscribe within the body of the message (nothing else). You will receive a confirmation that you have been subscribed to the list, along with instructions on how to participate. Note that there are hundreds of people on this list. Not every post is necessarily from a member of SAPIC. Most people on the list are genealogists searching for relatives, want directions to a cemetery in the state of Iowa, or who have questions about Iowa cemeteries. Everyone participates in answering questions.

Books and videos related to cemetery preservation and restoration are now available through a lending process. See links for details.

SAPIC Book & Video List        Book/Video Loan Form        Loaning Policy

Resetting Gravestones, such as Military Markers


Researchers may submit photos and transcriptions of gravestones and may connect with kinfolk. Care should always be taken when relying on the accuracy of information inscribed on grave markers as well as the information posted to these sites; double check your facts for everyone's benefit.

Last updated January 17, 2015. Please send updates to

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